Igor Kochetkov, chairman of the Russian LGBT Network, talked with the Russian civil society website Legal Dialogue about the persecution of gay Chechens in an interview published yesterday.
“We are currently in touch with some 75 people who have contacted us over the past three weeks,” he told the publication. “We are providing our help and assistance to 30 of them. This means that one way or another these people have already left the territory of the Chechen Republic. Around 15 people, who sought us out earlier, have already left Russia.”
He described the situation as a “crime against humanity”:
First of all, we are talking here about mass detentions, torture and murder of gay people. Our estimates suggest that there have been hundreds and hundreds of cases of kidnapping in the Republic. Secondly, these mass repressions target a very specific group: those who are assumed to be gay. It is important to stress that victims are being picked based solely on this criteria: their alleged sexual orientation. Even when gays are locked up by the police, that are kept separately from the rest of the detainees, and are accorded a different, harsher treatment. While in custody, they are not given any food whatsoever. These victims of the anti-gay crackdown are beaten and harassed not only by the uniform-clad police officers, but by other detainees as well. Finally, this is a crime that is being committed by public officers. People are seized in their homes or at work by men in police uniforms. They are detained in the buildings that belong to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Chechnya, and it is obvious that this crackdown has been sponsored and mandated by the authorities.
Read the complete interview at Igor Kochetkov: “We Must Rescue All Those We Can Rescue and Help Them Leave Russia” | Legal Dialogue. If the text appears in Russian, you can get the English version by going to the top left of the screen where it says “РУС | ENG” and selecting “ENG.”
Learn how to help at Readers & Writers for LGBT Chechens.